If I ever find myself in Perth, it’s always a Monday. And, as the Mamas and the Papas sang; “Whenever Monday comes, you can find me crying all of the time”.
Dinner for two, excluding drinks
Perhaps Mama Cass had as much trouble as I did, when it came to finding an eatery that’s open in this city on that particular weekday. However, after Googling around five restaurants while en-route in the car, it turned out that all was not lost in my quest.
This place – No1 The Bank Bistro – was serving grub, as it’s part of the Parklands Hotel, which will have to feed hungry residents on a daily basis.
The executive chef is Graeme Pallister, who’s also chef patron at Perth’s 63 Tay Street (closed on Mondays) and recently bagged Chef of the Year at the Catering in Scotland Excellence Awards 2013.
His style of cooking could be described as mildly quirky, with world influences that are wrapped up in a classic fine-dining shell.
We were served dinner in a heavily carpeted room with bay windows that overlooks a landscaped garden, where guests were drinking frothy pints in the sun, and entertainment was provided by a blackbird being stalked by its shouty and oversized chick.
Our first course was a smoked haddock, saffron and curried kipper mascarpone risotto (£7.50), which was decorated with sprigs of micro coriander. This rich and luxe take on kedgeree was strewn with flame-coloured saffron filaments, flecks of chive and intensely fishy flakes, with a hunk of haddie on top. Lovely texture too – creamy and roof-of-mouth coating.
The other starter – crisp poached ham hock (£6.50) – was also a rib-sticking treat.
An auburn puck of crunchy breadcrumb-coated shredded ham hock was topped by a fan of what the menu described as “bittersweet apples” (which weren’t quite sweet enough for me). Underneath this, there was also a highly mushed black pudding purée, which was the grey hue of wallpaper paste, but tasted good and savoury.
Our mains included a US-influenced spatchcock quail (£19). Teaming a huge portion of soft and char-lined game with a glossy coating of BBQ sauce felt a bit irreverent, like eating foie gras on a softy, or teaming cashmere with Primark. We liked it, not to mention its breakfast caff-style trimmings of sausage nibs, grilled Portobello mushroom and tomato, as well as a portion of fat chips. Big, bolshy and very filling.
I wouldn’t say trout (£17.50) is always my numero uno go-to fish, but this worked beautifully with its algae-coloured topping of chopped capers and butter. Underneath was a smooth almond purée, a bundle of green beans, and, on the side, a pair of turmeric-spiked (but rather too greasy) bauble-shaped and golden cauliflower fritters. Like.
Savouries trumped the sweets, although, I’m not sure if the roast peach and almond clafoutis (£6) could be classed as one of the latter. The tartness of the barely ripe fruit ingredient couldn’t quite take the edge off the general eggy-ness. Its accompaniment of coffee and Hebridean sea salt ice-cream was equally challenging. I think I liked it, but I’m only 73 per cent certain. Still, we loved the four raspberries, which were as fat as bumble bees.
Our “bittersweet chocolate” mille-feuille (£6.50) resembled a pergola, with layers of buttery pastry that sandwiched a frothy chocolate mousse, with a block of smooth vanilla parfait on the bottom (the best bit). It was all good, apart from the slightly odd white chocolate sorbet, which tasted unexpectedly alcoholic.
Still, it was impressive stuff overall and you’re guaranteed to find no better place to fill your beak on a Monday night in Perth. So stop your crying.